Having a baby changes everything. While a new dad tries to figure out how to be the best parent for his newborn, he may also be wondering how to be the best partner for his mate. Helping around the house or simply offering encouragement can make a world of difference. Here, we’re sharing some thoughtful ways dad can help mom after childbirth.
5 Ways Dad Can Help
Don’t be a “let me know if you need anything” kind of dad. Help with taking care of the baby and taking care of the house — even without being asked.
Whether your partner gave birth vaginally or by C-section, she will be a bit fragile and sore for weeks after giving birth. As she recovers, she’ll need to limit her activity, especially after a C-section.
That means dad needs to take over the bulk of household chores including laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, and running other errands. This also means helping with baths and diaper changes, being on spit-up duty, and spending quality time with your baby.
“Take initiative with the baby,” says Charlene Lindsay, who gave birth to her second child, Layla, in May 2020. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, her husband, Adam, has been working from home. This means he’s available to help with Layla more than he did eight years ago when Charlene had their son, AJ.
“I think he’s more comfortable and confident this time around,” Charlene says of Adam. “So, I feel like he jumps in to do more. When I hear Layla cry, he beats me to her. He doesn’t hesitate to change a blowout poop diaper.”
Read the baby books and do the Google searches so you can play your part.
“I think mothers tend to have more instincts with infants but we’re also figuring it out as we go,” she says. “Dads can figure it out, too.”
Remember you’re parenting, not babysitting, so never act like you’re doing your partner a favor. Raising a child is a shared responsibility.
Be sensitive to the toll that breastfeeding can take on mom. It isn’t as easy as it looks on TV. Baby may have trouble latching on properly and feeding. Your partner may have sore nipples or clogged milk ducts, which can also be painful.
Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy, too. So, mom needs fuel. Bring her snacks and water when she’s feeding. Offer to rub her shoulders when she’s done.
And remember that because the baby needs to feed every 2 to 3 hours, mom isn’t getting a lot of sleep.
“When we had AJ, Adam felt like he needed a full night’s sleep to be able to function at work,” Charlene says. “I don’t think he realized I didn’t get any extra rest even though I was home all day.”
Take care of baby and encourage mom to take a nap. And after mom nurses in the middle of the night, offer to rock baby back to sleep so mom can get some extra rest.
Pay close attention to your partner’s mood. It’s normal to have the “baby blues” and feel sad or anxious while adjusting to the new normal of motherhood. However, if these feelings persist or get more severe, they could be signs of postpartum depression or another perinatal mood disorder. Encourage your partner to talk to you about her feelings. If you think she may be depressed, encourage her to talk to her doctor.
If you think sex is going to resume as soon as mom gets home from the hospital, think again. Depending on whether she delivered vaginally or by C-section, it may take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks for your partner to heal completely, according to WebMD. Even then, she may not be ready for sex. Remember that your mate’s libido may be affected by hormone changes and she simply may be too tired for sex. So, give it time and let her set the pace.
With all the changes to her body, her mood, and her life, your partner may not be the confident, self-assured woman you’re used to. So, be there for her to reassure her every step of the way. Hug her often — just because. Remind her that she’s beautiful, that she’s doing a great job with the baby, and that you love her no matter what.